AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Tag: biomedicine

Can Biohackers Change the Human Lifestyle?

In an article written on the BBC News website, the effects and new technologies of biohackers were explored. Biohackers are people who use science and natural remedies to further better brain and body function and overall motion. For example, Liviu Babitz created a gadget in his chest where the chip in his body vibrates every time he faces north. Babitz asks the question, if some animals can already sense direction, why shouldn’t we?”


This is an image of DNA as a double helix. Many of these biohackers are attempting to change and modify human genes using biomedical technologies.


A more controversial and modern biomedical technology is CRISPR. Rich Lee, a cabinet maker and one who does extreme body modifications, is currently attempting to used CRISPR to modify his own genes. He reveals the dangers of this by showing his scars from his legs. This exploration of biohacking is extremely dangerous as well. However, Lee states, “I want to see a biologically fluid society where people can just augment these things.”

Another example of a biohacker is Corina Ingram-Noehr, an event organizer. She has created a routine that includes technologies and over twenty different supplements to support her physique.

Corina Ingram-Noehr uses cryotherapy where she can walk around in the freezing cold with shorts. She states, “Biohacking for me is taking control of your own biology. It’s taking shortcuts to get to a place that you want to be – so shortcutting your health. That’s kind of how I think of it at least.”

Biohacking is on the horizon for medicine and will most likely be used on a bigger scale in this upcoming decade.


Let’s Talk About Malaria

Let’s Talk About Malaria

A small mosquito landing on a human finger.


Did you know, that the World Health Organization estimates that roughly 438,000 people die annually due to Malaria? Well, now you do know that unfortunate fact. But – did you know that the total number of people affected by malaria is only growing? In reality, those don’t matter, what does matter is what we are going to do now to combat the issue and CRISPR/cas9 might be the answer. In order to better understand the issue of Malaria and the resolution of utilizing CRISPR/cas9, let’s take an indepth look at both with the assistance of the article about Gene Editing to end Malaria from Vox.


So, what is Malaria? According to the Center for Disease Control, Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease caused by a parasite. The four kinds of malaria parasites that infect humans are Plasmodium falciparum, P. vivax, P. ovale, and P. malariae. Typical symptoms causes people to experience fever, chills, and flu-like illness. Left untreated, they may develop severe complications and die. Basically, Malaria has been affecting the global population for decades.  Now, you might be asking yourself: then, what is CRISPR/cas9? Fantastic Question! According to the National Institute of Health, CRISPR/cas9 is recent biomedical technology phenomenon that is drastically changing the genome editing space. In specifically, CRISPR/cas9, which is short for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats and CRISPR-associated protein 9, has generated a lot of excitement in the scientific community because it is faster, cheaper, more accurate, and more efficient than other existing genome editing methods.


So, here is the big question: why does it matter? Here is why it matters. When looking at Anopheles Gambiae Mosquito larvae, a common carrier of the Malaria parasite, in a lab in the United Kingdom, a couple of researchers noticed that all of the larvae had a physical red fluorescent phenotype. Although this doesn’t sound shocking, this is extremely shocking as only one parent had the red fluorescent recessive genotype and the other had the dominant wild type, so the expected offspring would be fifty percent with the red fluorescent gene and fifty percent without the red fluorescent gene, but all of the Mosquitos had the red fluorescent gene. This gene has been linked on Mosquitos to the fertility of female mosquitos. Now, you might be asking yourself: when does CRISPR/cas9 come into play? Well, CRISPR/cas9 can target and locate a specific gene, cut, enter itself in and then passed onto the abundant and constant offspring. As a result, when the CRISPR/cas9 is utilized to alter the mosquito population to be resilient to the Malaria parasite and could “wipe” Malaria from the future history of the planet.


In reality, I could never say that this is bad thing as it is working to save lives of hundreds of thousands of people globally. As a matter of fact, I would believe the majority of the population would say this is a good thing, but I am going to say this: do it, but do it right. This is something that needs to be done, Malaria has wreaked havoc on our global community for decades and we must move past that, but any small mistake would halt progress in this field for year. In conclusion, let’s keep having a serious discussion on changing the status of Malaria globally.


Thank you!


From your favorite bacteria,



A New Way to Study Sleep Disorders

Whether you are an early bird or a night owl, all of your body’s processes are driven on the day- to- day cycle of your “body clock”, more scientifically known as your circadian rhythm. Regulating the activation of about 40 percent of our genes, the circadian rhythm orchestrates bodily patterns such as hunger, alertness, and body temperature that drive our daily activities to maintain homeostasis. Almost all of the human cellular processes are carefully harmonized in this way by a small portion of the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus, which controls levels of hormones that induce the sleep/wake cycle. Although necessary for our survival, this sequence of hormones can considerable trouble when that clock does not coincide with the clock on the wall, often resulting in sleep disorders.

Recent studies have led scientists towards much more efficient methods to test for and understand the circadian rhythms of those with sleep disorders. In the past, an extensive exam would require numerous blood and saliva samples taken over the course of several hours in low- light conditions. However, more recent studies have settled upon a much simpler test for biological time that can be integrated into routine checkups.

The new approach measures cyclic fluctuations in RNA levels in the blood that would indicate circadian activation of genes. Specifically, the test analyzes monocytes, a specific type of white blood cell that displays a strong circadian cycle in its abundance in the bloodstream. By analyzing the oscillations of a patient’s monocyte levels doctors can more easily identify where and how their circadian rhythm is irregular, and consequently come to more effective treatment.

Hopefully this more common method of detecting circadian irregularities can lead to development in treatment for sleep disorders as well as approaching more common sleep issues such as jet lag.

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